Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Your quiet power in meetings, part 4

In this series, I've discussed why what you say matters (part 1), agendas (part 2), and participants (part 3).  Let's put some of this together and think about how you want to interact in the meeting.  

It's often hard for a quiet person (introvert or shy) to get a word in edgewise.** And you may not want to say a lot, anyway.  Part of the strategy of being prepared is knowing that though you may not say much, what you do say should make a good impression.  Quality generally wins in the end.

Body language is important.  You will be more visible if you sit beside the person leading the meeting (if it's not you!).  Make eye contact with others and try not to look bored.  Lean forward ever so slightly if need be to show interest in what others have to say.  Doodling and keeping downcast eyes will only make you more invisible!  Follow the conversation.  Taking notes is helpful.  It gives you something to do and lets others know you are engaged -- important for those who don't say much.  

Know the topics, and if need be, research their history so that your contributions to the discussion will be informed. Before the meeting, plan a couple of comments that you might make about these issues.  If you are prepared and have something to say, you often will find an appropriate time to interject. And what I have found is that even if I don't say what I planned, my advance research gave me different ideas that I found relevant to bring up anyway.  Sometimes it can make you more visible to simply clearly note your agreement with the points made by someone else or to compliment them on a creative approach.  But you must do so with assertiveness and clarity rather than timidly.

What is important is to be positive, to be engaged, and to use your quiet way to provide substantive, coherent input when you can do so. Remember that it is your quiet competence that will "win" in the end - not trying to be witty or to say a lot.   

For a future post:  One of the core topics in my book is the unwritten rules of workplace interactions (Chapter 19).  Do you ever need to interrupt others to be heard?  What has been your experience with this? 

** Note: Though both shy and introverted people may experience this, those who are shy often struggle more with the best way to cope and face additional issues that I don't talk about here.

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  1. I agree shyness in certain situations like meetings may play to your advantage as talking less but talking more sensible will win others over. Sometimes, though people are so painfully shy that they can not even get a word out or they feel anxious or nervous. My website has some great free tips for these types of people. Check it out at http://beatshynessnow.com

  2. HotBeatz,
    Yes, shyness can be debilitating.